Is Eric Based on a True Story? How Does It End?

The real monster in Eric, the emotional thriller from playwright and screenwriter Abi Morgan, isn’t a big, blue beast. It’s something much more sinister.

The series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a puppeteer named Vincent looking for his missing young son in ’80s Manhattan, explores the scourges of structural inequity, the AIDS epidemic, white collar crime, and addiction terrorizing the city.

1. Is Eric based on a true story?

The kidnapping at the center of the story isn’t based on a specific news story. Still, the series was inspired by Morgan’s time working as a nanny in ’80s New York against the backdrop of homophobia and the AIDS epidemic.

“When I first came, I stayed in this really run-down hostel and it was this weird place full of international backpackers, low-income families and drug addicts,” she says. As a nanny, she moved through the city with children and saw urban ills through their eyes.

One day, Morgan says, she watched as parents and their kids lined up outside what appeared to be a television studio, waiting to be in the audience at a taping of a children’s show. Decades later that memory ended up inspiring Good Day Sunshine and is even a scene in the finale. 

Eric True Story Explained
Benedict Cumberbatch in Eric (2024) | Source: IMDb

2. Was The Lux a real place?

The Lux nightclub isn’t real. Morgan drew inspiration from the edgy ’80s nightlife of New York and London. “There was this very dark, desperate side of New York at the time.

There was also this incredible energy and excitement, and you could feel that when you went to the club,” she says.

In Eric, Morgan wanted to “sensitively explore” what it meant to witness the discrimination and the impact of AIDS on the LGBTQ+ community. “I grew up in a very liberal environment where being gay was very acceptable, but I knew outside of that world, it wasn’t,” she says.

The Lux is a tribute to the fringe clubs where everybody, particularly queer people, could feel free. “This community was being vilified, ignored, had this disease rampaging through its numbers. Where would you go for solace, but a place in the shadows?” she says. “That’s what The Lux is about. It’s about a community and a home for people who have to live in the shadows.”

Much of the production took place at a studio in Budapest, utilizing a New York set left over from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Series director Lucy Forbes says the dilapidated environment had the perfect exterior for The Lux. “I really liked the idea of it being an old cinema,” she says. “Budapest hasn’t been hugely modernized, so we also found some really, really beautiful period interiors.”

3. Did unhoused people live in the subway tunnels?

Morgan and Forbes were influenced by the 2000 documentary Dark Days, in which filmmaker Marc Singer spent years living with a community encamped in the abandoned Amtrak tunnels that stretch from Penn Station to north of Harlem.

“The subway is the skeletal backbone to [a] city,” says Morgan. “It made absolute sense that in ’80s New York, [the subway] would become a place where people could find sanctuary in a way.”

4. Does Vincent find his missing son?

When the final episode begins, Vincent is at his lowest point literally — passed out in the subway tunnels where he’s been searching for Edgar. He’s had a “real psychotic breakdown” and has lost his way, says Morgan.

As he comes to his senses, he sees an image on the wall and recognizes it as a drawing by his son. “[For Vincent,] this episode is really about him having to face who the real monster is,” says Morgan.

He meets Yuusuf, the man Edgar originally followed underground. When Vincent sees Edgar’s drawings in the tunnels, it reignites his drive to get Eric the puppet on TV so Edgar will see him and come home.

After his realization, Vincent heads to the studio and steals Eric’s costume. He puts it on and runs to a large protest where he can get in front of a camera and appeal to his son while in character as Eric. “We see the full weight of Vincent’s psychological breakdown, but we also come to see that this is a man who’s starting to make sense of his own role in his son’s disappearance,” says Morgan.

As the crowd chants, Vincent takes off Eric’s head and makes a plea to the television cameras. “He sends out this message to [Edgar], ‘Race you home,’ which is a code that father and son [used with] each other,” says Morgan. “He comes to realize that he would never let Edgar win, and that was a key thing he learned through the journey: It’s time to try and let Edgar win.”

5. Does Edgar live?

While eating French toast at a diner, Edgar sees Vincent’s performance as Eric on live TV. Edgar bolts out the door when he hears the message to race his father home. Vincent also runs homeward, still wearing most of the Eric suit.

“[Vincent was] a man reaching the end of his odyssey by running half in that outfit, and half not in it,” says Cumberbatch of the difficult task of sprinting in the Eric suit, which puppeteer Olly Taylor wore during the rest of filming.

“You’re sitting in this bucket harness to hold up the thickness and the width of the legs,” explains the actor. “You can’t use your gait to run. You have to twist your hip into each step. I just really, really, went out for that. Try doing that in June in New York.”

Just as Vincent’s coming around the corner, Edgar is also racing home — and father and son are finally reunited. “This episode is really about Vincent very narrowly losing his son, but in regaining his son, he also regains himself,” says Morgan.

 “There’s a key line when he says goodbye to Cassie, preparing to go into rehab, where he says, ‘I’m that toxic thing. It’s me.’ While everyone else was looking for the monsters, for the motivation for what had happened to Edgar, the motivation and the monster is within [Vincent] — he’s Eric.”

Is Eric Based on a True Story?
Benedict Cumberbatch in Eric (2024) | Source: IMDb

6. What happened to Marlon Rochelle?

As Ledroit also looks for Edgar, he becomes aware of a much larger conspiracy of sexual exploitation running from the nightclubs to the police force itself. Fourteen-year-old Marlon has been gone for 11 months but didn’t get the same media attention as Edgar.

After cooperating with his former lover and The Lux proprietor Alex Gator, Ledroit obtains a VHS security tape that cracks the case.

Morgan says Ledroit finds that the missing Marlon, a high school student and basketball player, was “just a New York kid who is coming to terms, probably, with his sexuality,” and had been turning tricks at The Lux nightclub.

7. Do they ever find Marlon’s body?

Toward the end of the episode, we find Ledroit standing with Marlon’s mom, Cecile, played by Adepero Oduye, looking out over a massive landfill just outside of New York City, knowing that her son is buried somewhere amongst it all.

Later, Cecile stands before the 27th Precinct and gives a heart-wrenching speech. “As long as I am alive, I will not give up on love, I will not give up on hope. My son deserved to live in a city that loved him. For my son, for all of our sons, for Marlon. Please do better.” Forbes thinks that, for Cecile, “justice will come in proper change. You’re left at the end of the series hoping change will happen. It’s a bittersweet thing.”

8. How does Eric end?

In the series’ final scene, we watch a newly sober Vincent thrive in his new role wearing the Eric costume. Cassie, Sebastian, and Edgar are in the audience for the taping of Good Day Sunshine and Cassie and Sebastian have a cordial meeting with Vincent afterwards.

Cumberbatch says Vincent, at the beginning of the series, “has obliterated the connections to his wife [and] the connection to his son. So to see that reverse at the end is a beautiful, beautiful fairy-tale ending, but [also] a painful, raw, and honest first step in Vincent’s moon landing.”

Afterwards, Edgar walks across the set’s bridge wearing the Eric costume. “He’s created something out of his child’s imagination and then Edgar is taking ownership of it again,” Cumberbatch says. “It is Edgar’s to have. I think [that’s] a very profound token of what fathering is: handing the baton on.”

And on the balcony, Eric, the imaginary monster watches over them both.

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9. About Eric

Eric is a six-part British psychological thriller television miniseries created for the streaming service Netflix, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The script was written by Abi Morgan with Lucy Forbes directing and Holly Pullinger producing the series. The series was released on 30 May 2024.

Vincent is a puppeteer in 1980s New York whose nine-year-old son, Edgar, has gone missing. Vincent’s increasingly volatile behavior alienates him from his friends and family. After issues with substance abuse, Vincent becomes convinced that he can reunite with Edgar with the help of his seven-foot-tall puppet, Eric.

Siddharth Sood

Siddharth Sood

Meet our Founder - Siddharth Sood, aka ‘MC SID’ is an entrepreneur selling official licensed Fan merchandise by day and a Wedding Rapper by night. Sharing his opinions on pop culture is his true passion. Also its worth mentioning Batman and him have not been seen in the same room at the same time ever, just saying.

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